herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Scots have to settle for draw in Warsaw

Scotland had to settle for a European Championship qualifying point in Warsaw after coming from behind to threaten a famous win against a Poland side fresh from victory over world champions Germany.

The Poles looked set to build on their historic triumph over their neighbours Germany when Krzysztof Maczynski fired them into an 11th-minute lead following a mistake by Alan Hutton.

But Shaun Maloney finished off an excellent move seven minutes later and Scotland took a second-half lead when Steven Naismith flicked home James Morrison's long free-kick.

However, Arkadiusz Milik atoned for some earlier misses when he fired home with 14 minutes left after Hutton was caught out again.

Robert Lewandowski then produced some brilliant skill in a similar position to fashion a shooting chance but Marshall dived to push his drive wide.

Grzegorz Krychowiak headed wide from a corner seconds later and Poland ramped up the pressure in the final 10 minutes.

But the Scots had luck on their side after substitute Sebastian Mila opened them up with a brilliant dribble and pass. Grosicki took the ball round Marshall but hit the post and Mila fired the rebound wide.

Gibraltar were defeated 3-0 by Georgia in front of an almost empty Estádio Algarve in Portugal.

Nikoloz Gelashvili got the Georgians off to a flier in the ninth minute when he found the net and Tornike Okriashvili doubled the visitors' advantage after 19 minutes.

However, the anticipated rout never materialised as minnows Gibraltar only conceding one more goal - to Jaba Kankava in the second half.

Northern Ireland's dreams of a first ever European Championship appearance are one step closer to reality after goals in either half from Jamie Ward and Kyle Lafferty gave them a third successive Group F victory at the expense of Greece.

That is the country's best ever start to any World Cup or European qualifying series and a table-topping nine points would surely have been beyond the most fanciful expectations of manager Michael O'Neill.

But Northern Ireland are a different beast now, exemplified by Lafferty's hot streak of three goals in as many games - the latest a powerful run and finish from a predatory counter-attack.

The qualifier between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade was abandoned after skirmishes broke out involving players and fans over an Albanian flag that was flown above the stadium by a drone.

English referee Martin Atkinson interrupted the match in the 41st minute when one of the Serbia players managed to grab the flag and Albania players tried to protect it.

Several Serbian fans invaded the pitch and clashed with Albanian players. The score was 0-0 at the time.

The match was later abandoned "due to a disturbance on the pitch", according to UEFA.

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